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Grace says sales fell in 2Q after a price increase

PricesEarnings ForecastsBankruptcyFinancially Distressed CompaniesStock Market

Columbia chemical maker W.R. Grace & Co. said Thursday that it took a hit to sales in the second quarter as a price increase prompted customers to jump ship.

Investors didn't like that news, pressing the stock price down $5.33 a share — more than 6 percent — to $78.45 at market's close.

Grace's revenue fell about 3 percent in the three months ending June 30, to $802.8 million, compared with the year-earlier period. Profit rose — nearly 20 percent — but that was driven in part by an approximately $20 million drop in asbestos-related costs.

The company produced $82.8 million in income during the second quarter, up from $69.3 million in the year-earlier period. Earnings per share rose to $1.07 each from 90 cents.

The drop in sales came entirely in its catalysts technologies business, which includes oil refining products. The company said it has lost about $60 million in annualized sales volume after announcing a 10 percent increase in the base prices of its refining catalysts in March.

Grace officials said that was a bigger hit than they'd expected. They're counting on new products to win back sales, but they warned investors not to expect "significant benefits" from the price increase before next year.

The company, which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2001 as it faced rising numbers of asbestos claims, said it expects to emerge from Chapter 11 by the end of the year.

jhopkins@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jsmithhopkins

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